Sport Bulega fastest on wet Friday in Japan as Mir struggles

09:25  13 october  2017
09:25  13 october  2017 Source:   Read Sport

First blood Vettel in Suzuka FP1

  First blood Vettel in Suzuka FP1 Sebastian Vettel beat Lewis Hamilton in the first free practice ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix. The Ferrari driver improved his lap time to 1m29.166s around the Suzuka track as it began to drizzle. The rain quickly grew heavier, making it impossible for Hamilton to reply. Hamilton was fastest early in the session but it became clear Mercedes would have to worry about Ferrari pace when Vettel took second, half a tenth of a second slower than Hamilton on a harder compound of tyres. The Mercedes driver eventually finished the session two tenths of a second slower than Vettel. Daniel Ricciardo managed third quickest ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, Valtteri Bottas, and Max Verstappen. Kevin Magnussen was the first driver to run into trouble at Suzuka. He spent the majority of the session in the pits with a water pressure issue. Though he was able to get out to set 15 laps over the course of the practice, it was only enough to put him 11th and the problem returned later in the session. His time was two tenths of a second slower than Romain Grosjean, who finished ninth fastest. Running was interrupted an hour into the session when a heavy crash for Carlos Sainz left him stranded on track. The Toro Rosso had spun as he exited the hair pin, hitting the barriers before bouncing back across the track and bringing out the red flag. Sainz was able to get out of the car unaided, but there was severe damage to the front of the machine and debris strewn across the track.

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NicoloBulega ended a soaking Friday at Motegi fastest of all, while world champion elect Joan Mir struggled for pace.

The 2.98-mileMotegi circuit was left saturated by heavy overnight rain when the first 40-minute session go underway this morning.

Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images Sport © Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images Sport Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images Sport

This did not deter the Sky VR46 duo, however, with Bulega and team-mate Andrea Migno riding in formation for the duration of the session.

A 2m09.577s from Bulega put him 0.128 seconds clear of Migno at the chequered flag, while Romano Fenati – who is gunning for his first podium finish at Motegi this weekend – completing the top three on the combined times.

Vettel: 'extra risk' in qualifying didn't pay off

  Vettel: 'extra risk' in qualifying didn't pay off Sebastian Vettel admitted he took “a bit more risk” on his final qualifying lap at Suzuka, knowing Valtteri Bottas wasn’t going to threaten a potential front row slot. The German managed to set the third fastest time in the session, but due to a gearbox penalty for Bottas, Vettel will start alongside pole sitter Lewis Hamilton on the front row on Sunday. Vettel, a four-time winner of the Japanese Grand Prix, is looking to cut the 34-point gap in the drivers’ championship, but the multiple world champion feels the prancing horse has lacked a bit of performance compared with Mercedes. “In the last run in Q3 I tried a bit more than there was,” he said. “Valtteri wasn’t a threat, so I took a bit more risk, but it didn’t work. “Still, I am happy with third and the front row tomorrow, the starts lately have been quite good. The car balance is getting better and better. “We are lacking a bit of performance but the car should be a bit better in the race.” Despite the gap in qualifying trim, Vettel remains optimistic of a stronger showing for Ferrari in the race but concedes Mercedes is back to its normal performance after a below par weekend in Malaysia. “I don’t know which sort of pace they will have,” Vettel added. “They are a bit up and down, last week they weren’t very quick, this race back to normal. “For us normally we are a bit stronger in the race compared to qualifying, so we get together and see what we can do at the start and during the race.

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Fenati put in a late effort of 2m10.628s to top the standings in the afternoon session, though improvements in laptime from the first session were few and far between in second practice despite the slightly better conditions.

Red Bull KTMAjo’s Niccolo Antonelli enjoyed a strong Friday. The Italian – who has not scored a top six finish in over a year – was just 0.006s shy of Fenati‘s time in the afternoon having led the session for a time, and this moved him up to fifth on the combined times.

Aron Canet slotted into fourth on his EstrellaGalicia0,0 Honda in both session, with CIPMahindra’s Manuel Pagliani sixth fastest ahead of Adam Norrodin, who crashed at the final corner in the opening stages of second practice.

Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images Sport © Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images Sport Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images Sport

NakarinAtiratphuvapat has proven to be a wet weather specialist this season on his Team Asia Honda, and the Thai rider continued to impress in the treacherous conditions with the ninth fastest time of the day ahead of Tatsuki Suzuki.

Luthi fastest on Friday in Moto2 despite crash

  Luthi fastest on Friday in Moto2 despite crash Tom Luthi ended the opening day of action from a wet Motegi ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix fastest of all despite crashing in the afternoon session. The first 45-minute session was topped by Marc VDS rider Alex Marquez with a 2m05.460s, while Luthi was just under half a second adrift in second with championship leader Franco Morbidelli down in fifth. Morbidelli‘s afternoon got off to a tricky start when his bike stopped as he was exiting pitlane for his first laps. His session failed to improve from there and he ended the day almost a second adrift of his nearest championship rival in fifth. Marquez led the early stages of the second session with a 2m06.736s, but was soon deposed by Luthi – the Swiss rider posting a 2m05.885s despite a small moment at the final corner, before improving to a 2m05.282s. The Interwetten rider – who sits 21 points adrift of Morbidelli in second in the championship – was unable to improve on his best lap in the closing stages, however, as he crashed at Turn 3. Marquez was able to improve his pace to a 2m05.478s to end a wet Friday in Japan second on the combined times, with KTM’s Miguel Oliveira third quickest ahead of HafizhSyahrin – who remained fourth on the combined times despite failing to improve in the afternoon. Twitter: A rare crash for @ThomasLUTHI leaves the Swiss a little dirty! #JapaneseGP https://t.

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BoBendsneyder was shuffled back to 11th on the combined standings after a nightmare afternoon session, in which the Dutch rider crashed twice at Turn 5 – his first a lowside on his outlap, with the second a highside in the closing stages.

AyumuSasaki was 12th on the combined timesheets after a fall at Turn 3 at the end of the second session, with Albert Arenas improving to 13th in the afternoon ahead of EneaBastianini and John McPhee, who also suffered a late tumble.

The big shock of the day came in the form of championship leader Joan Mir, who was 2.5s off the pace down in 17th on the combined times.

Off the pace in both sessions, Mir – who can clinch the Moto3 title this weekend after taking an 80-point lead at Aragon – also took a rare trip into the gravel trap when he crashed at Turn 3 with six minutes to go.

MotoGP of San Marino - Qualifying © Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images Sport MotoGP of San Marino - Qualifying

Mir sets the pace in Moto3 on Friday at Phillip Island .
Championship leader Joan Mir ended the first day of running at Phillip Island in the Moto3 class fastest of all ahead of Aron Canet. Sky VR46’sNicoloBulega led the morning session with a 1m38.582s at Phillip Island despite a fall at the Honda hairpin, while Motegi winner Romano Fenati suffered a big highside at Turn 11. Fenati – who is 55 points down on Mir in the standings – was taken to the medical centre after taking a knock to his head, but was declared fit to continue and wasted no time at the start of the second session. The Italian was the early pacesetter with a 1m40.252s, though Jorge Martin soon took over at the top of the standings with a 1m38.190s. Fenati dropped outside of the top 20 as he spent a considerable amount of time in his garage. With 22 minutes to go, Leopard’s Mir – who made his grand prix debut at Phillip Island in 2015 – went fastest with a 1m38.149s before bettering that with a 1m37.965s, these laps set on the hard rear tyre. Red Bull KTMAjo’sBoBendsneyder deposed the championship leader middway through the session with a 1m37.622s, which stood until the closing stages when a flurry of fast laps shook up the order. With seven minutes remaining, Mir took over at the top of the pile with a 1m37.398s and cemented his position with a 1m37.111s – these laps all set without benefit of a tow.

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